Charles Dickens and Liverpool.

Charles Dickens and Liverpool.2018-11-02T13:00:21+00:00

 

The Victorian author Charles Dickens enjoyed a rich association with the city of Liverpool during his lifetime. He gave a number of readings in the city, both for charity and as part of commercial tours. He visited the area as part of research for articles and for both of his tours of America he both departed from, and returned to Liverpool. The city was grateful for his contribution and in the year before his death held a huge banquet in his honour, the Mayor even allowing his carriage to be used to transport Dickens to the venue.

We have attempted to put together the movements of Dickens whilst in Liverpool during his numerous visits based on material such as letters, newspaper reports and articles. There are some small gaps and we would be grateful for any information to make it into a comprehensive list.

 


 

1842.

January. For the first six months of 1842, Charles Dickens toured North America travelling with wife Catherine on the first of what would be two visits the author made to the continent. Aged just 29, he was already very famous both here and across the Atlantic.

    • January, 2. Charles and Catherine travel to Liverpool, staying the night at the Adelphi Hotel in preparation for their journey.
    • January, 3. The couple departs from Liverpool on the Royal Mail steam-ship Britannia. The Liverpool Standard newspaper reported at the time that:

A great many persons were on the pier-bead to see Mr. Dickens off; in fact, he was quite the cynosure of all eyes; we are certain there was not one present who did not heartily wish to have shaken him by the hand, and bid him “bon voyage”

June. On the 7 June 1842, Charles Dickens and Catherine departed America for England, sailing in the packet-ship George Washington from New York. The ship, under the command of a Captain Burrows, arrived in Liverpool on Wednesday, 29 June. Dickens didn’t stay over, chosing instead to depart immediately for his home in London

 


 

1844.

February, 26 (Monday). Charles Dickens visits Liverpool to give a speech in aid of the Liverpool Mechanics’ Institution. Arrives in the city with his sister, Fanny and brother-in-law. The address is given at the Institution’s premises in Mount Street.

 


 

1847.

July, 28. Charles Dickens appeared at the Theatre Royal as a performer in an amateur performance of the 1598 play Every Man In His Humour. Aided by William Charles Macready, Charles Dickens and his friends had originally mounted a benefit production of Every Man In His Humour in London in 1845. Dickens took the role of Bobadill; the noted illustrator George Cruikshank was Cob; and his best friend John Forster played Kitely. The production was successful enough to be repeated three or four times over the next two years including this show in Liverpool as part of a small tour (which also included a performance at the Manchester Theatre Royal in the same month).


 

1852.

February. Dickens appeared at the Philharmonic Hall on the 13th and 14th February and performed Not So Bad As We Seem by Bulwer Lytton and his own Mr Nightingale’s Diary which he wrote in 1851 with his friend Mark Lemon.

This was a very successful trip for Dickens, he wrote to Bulwer Lytton the following day.

“I left Liverpool at 4 o’clock in the morning, and I am so blinded by excitement, gas and waving hats and hankerchiefs, that I can hardly see to write, but I cannot tell you what a triumph we had.”

September. Dickens returned to the Philharmonic Hall later that year on September 3rd, performing Used Up, Charles XII and Mr Nightingale’s Diary to an audience of 1,668.

 


 

1858.

August. Charles Dickens returned to the Philharmonic Hall to give the first of his public readings in the city. Each of the readings would last two hours, and Dickens performed them over four days on the 18th, 19th 20th and 21st of August. On his first night the hall was a sell out and Dickens performed to 2,300 people. During this tour he read from a number of his works including Dombey and Son, Boots At Holly Tree Inn, Martin Chuzzlewit and A Christmas Carol.

The itinerary of Dickens tour on this visit was as follows:

Dickens also took the opportunity to sell his books at the lectures during this tour in the city but they soon sold out, as he writes in a letter to his friend John Forster:

They turned away hundreds, sold all the books, rolled on the ground of my room knee-deep in cheques and made a perfect pantomime of the whole thing.

October. Dickens returned to the Philharmonic Hall on the 15th October and gave another two public performances. The itinerary on that day was as follows:

  • October, 15 (Friday). In the afternoon (3pm), Dickens gave a reading of the story of Little Paul from Dombey and Son. In the evening (at 8pm), he gives another public performance, with readings from The Poor Traveller, The Boots at the Hollytree Inn, and the Mrs Gamp episode from Martin Chuzzlewit.

 


 

1860.

March 24 (Saturday). Charles Dickens visits Liverpool Workhouse to see wounded soldiers returning from India on the ship Great Tasmania.

A report was published a few days later in the local Liverpool Mercury newspaper reporting that:

Dickens visited at the Liverpool Workhouse the invalid soldiers who arrived from India in the Great Tasmania. Mr Dickens remained for about two hours, and during that time engaged in conversation with several of the unfortunate men, in whose statements he appeared to take great interest.

 


 

1862.

January. Charles Dickens came to Liverpool in January 1862 as part of a national reading tour and used the Small Concert Room in St George’s Hall, which Dickens thought was ideal for his readings. On that occasion he gave three readings, ‘Bob Sawyer’, ‘David Copperfield’ and ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ he was due to give another three Readings the following day, but feeling unwell he travelled over to Birkenhead to clear his head.

The itinerary of Dickens tour on this visit was as follows:

 


 

1867.

Charles Dickens returned to Liverpool as part of his national reading tour in 1867. Again he performed at St. George’s Hall which by now his favourite venue in the city, giving a series of readings in January and returning again in February.

January.

The itinerary of Dickens tour on this visit was as follows:

  • January, 17 (Thursday). First of three performances in Liverpool. Dickens reads Barbox Brothers and The Boy at Mugby, held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 8pm.
  • January, 18 (Friday). Second of three performances in Liverpool,. Dickens reads Doctor Marigold and also the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers, held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 8pm.
  • January, 19 (Saturday). Afternoon reading held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 3pm. Reads A Christmas Carol.

Within days of finishing these readings, two further dates were being advertised in the local newspapers for the following month “in consequence of the great reception given”.

February.

On Valentine’s Day, 1867 Charles Dickens travelled from Birmingham, where he had performed the previous evening, to Liverpool to give two more nights of readings.

The itinerary on this visit was as follows:

  • February, 14 (Thursday). Dickens returns to Liverpool, with the first of two nights of readings, held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 8pm. Dickens reads Doctor Marigold and also the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers.
  • February, 15 (Friday). Second of two nights of readings in Liverpool, held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 8pm. Dickens reads Barbox Brothers and The Boy at Mugby.

 


 

1868.

October. In late 1868, Charles Dickens was back in Liverpool appearing at St. George’s Hall as part of a national tour billed as the ‘farewell readings’. He performed on the 12, 13 and 14 October and also the 26, 27, and 28, where he read to packed houses.

The itinerary of Dickens tour that month was as follows:

  • October, 12 (Monday). Held in the small concert room of St. George’s Hall at 8pm. Reads Doctor Marigold and also the trial scene from The Pickwick Papers. The Liverpool Daily Post reported the next day that the:

The small concert-room in St. George’s hall was crowded to excess … We wish everyone could hear him. It will be something to boast of in after years. To see an author that has aroused a wider sympathy than any man since Shakspeare [sic] is an event altogether beyond the limit of mere curiosity.

 


 

1869.

April, 10 (Saturday). Charles Dickens was entertained at a banquet held in St. George’s Hall in his honour. It was attended by the Lord Mayor and notable people from the city. Dickens was transported to the venue from the Adelphi hotel in the Mayor’s carriage.

 


Locations.

The following locations in Liverpool are associated with the Victorian author Charles Dickens during his lifetime. Click on a location to get more information and to access further pages.

 

Title Description
Adelphi Hotel.Charles Dickens stayed at the Adelphi Hotel a number of times.
Liverpool Workhouse.

Charles Dickens visited injured soldiers here in March 1860 for an article he wrote.

Mechanics' Institute.

Charles Dickens made his first public appearance in Liverpool at the Mechanics Institute, located in Mount Street.

Philharmonic Hall.

Charles Dickens made a number of readings here.

St. Georges Hall.

Charles Dickens made a number of readings here.

Theatre Royal.

Charles appeared in an amateur performance of Every Man In His Humour here in 1847.

 


 

 

 

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